> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford
> Tony Rose > Songs > Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford

Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford

[ Roud 2338 ; Child 144 ; Ballad Index C144 ; trad]

A.L. Lloyd sang the ballad Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford in 1956 on Volume III of his and Ewan MacColl's anthology of Child ballads, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Like all of his songs in this series, it was reissued in 2011 on the two Fellside CDs Bramble Briars and Beams of the Sun.

In 1970, Tony Rose recorded it for his first album, Young Hunting. He commented in the sleeve notes:

The events related in Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford constitute a typical episode in the career of one of England's best known folk heroes. The arrogant and opulent bishop, who is here robbed and ridiculed by Robin Hood, is shown as a typical example of the clergy of the time, hated by the poor because of their hypocrisy and corruption. The words and tune here are from Chappell's Popular Music of Olden Times.

Lyrics

Tony Rose sings Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford

Now some they will talk of brave Robin Hood
And some of barons bold,
But I'll tell you how he served the Bishop of Hereford
And robbed him of his gold.

Now as it befell in merry Barnsdale
All under the greenwood tree,
That the Bishop of Hereford was to ride by
With all his company.

“Come, kill a fat venison,” said bold Robin Hood,
“Come, kill me a good fat deer;
For the Bishop of Hereford will dine with me tonight
And he'll pay well for his cheer.”

“We'll kill a fat venison,” said bold Robin Hood,
“And dress it by the highway-side;
And we will watch the Bishop narrowly
Lest some other way he ride.”

So Robin he's dressed him in shepherd's attire
And six of his men also;
When the Bishop of Hereford did come by
They about that fire did go.

“Then what is the matter?” then said the Bishop,
“Why make you this a-do?
And why do you kill the king's venison,
When your company is so few?”

“Well, we are shepherds,” said bold Robin Hood,
“And we keep sheep all the year.
And we are resolved to be merry this night
And to kill of the king's fat deer.”

“Then you are brave fellows!” then said the Bishop,
“But the king of your doings shall know.
Therefore make haste and come along with me
And before the king you'll go.”

“O pardon, o pardon,” said Robin Hood,
“O pardon, I thee pray!
For it becometh not your lordship's coat
To take so many lives away.”

“No pardon, no pardon,” then said the Bishop,
“No pardon I thee owe.
Therefore make haste and come along with me
And before the king you'll go.”

So Robin set his back all against a tree
And his foot against a thorn,
And from underneath his shepherd's cloak
He took out a bugle-horn.

And he put the little end to his mouth
And a loud blast he did blow;
And a threescore-and-ten of bold Robin's men
Came a-running all on a row.

And they all made obeisance to bold Robin Hood;
'Twas a comely sight for to see.
“What's the matter then, master,” said Little John,
“That you blow so hastily?”

“Well here is the Bishop of Hereford,
No pardon we shall have.”
“Cut off his head then,” said Little John,
“And throw him into his grave.”

“O pardon, o pardon,” then said the Bishop,
“O pardon, I thee pray!
For if I had known that it had been you,
I'd have gone some other way.”

“No pardon, no pardon,” said Robin Hood,
“No pardon I thee owe;
Therefore make haste and come along with me
And to merry Barnsdale you'll go.”

So Robin took the Bishop all by the hand
And he led him to merry Barnsdale.
And he made him to stay and sup with him that night
And drink wine, beer and ale.

Then it's, “Call in the reckoning,” then said the Bishop,
“For methinks it grows wonderous high.”
“O lend me your purse, Sir,” said Little John,
“And I'll tell you bye and bye.”

So Little John took the bishop”s cloak,
And he laid it all on the ground,
And from out that bishop's portmantua
He took three hundred pound.

“There's money enough, master,” said Little John,
“'Tis a comely sight for to see;
And it puts me in charity with the old Bishop,
Though he heartily loveth not me.”

So Robin took the Bishop all by the hand,
And he caused the music to play,
And he made the old Bishop to dance in his boots,
And glad he could so get away.